Fifth-grade Halloween is etched in my memory forever — not because of the costumes or candy — but because of a trick of Halloween.It was a simpler time. Homemade costumes were all the rage. Friends walked from door-to-door in our rural neighborhood. We knew everyone. There was no worry of stranger danger.
We made the rounds, filled our bag, and broke up to walk home. It was dark, but it was our neighborhood.
Tommy saw the lights of the car brighten the sky. But the neighbor didn’t see him. When the car hit, it crushed both of Tommy’s legs before flinging him into the ditch.
Tommy stayed in the hospital for weeks. When he came home, they outfitted his bed with a metal traction frame to maintain the right amount of tension on his growing bones.
After the accident, Halloween in our neighborhood was never the same.
Follow these Halloween tricks from darkening your door.
Here are five tips for hosts and drivers
1. Don’t give away homemade treats or fruit.
2. Turn on outside lights.
3. Use battery-operated or solar lights to keep your pathways lit.
4. Monitor the street. Unfortunately, Halloween is also a time for mischief. Be on the lookout for suspicious behavior and report it to authorities if necessary.
5. Use caution when driving. In the excitement of Halloween, children may forget the rules and dart out in front of you.
Be aware and be safe. Ten tips for trick-or-treaters.
1. Wear a costume that doesn’t trip you up. Your costume should be short enough to allow you to move freely without the risk of trips, falls, and bumps in the night. Costumes with loose fabric, tassels, or scarves create hazards when worn near moving machines or fire.
2. Wear a well-fitting mask, or even better, ditch the mask and use face paint. Ill-fitting masks interfere with peripheral and forward vision.
3. Make sure people can see you. Add blinking lights or reflective tape to your costume so drivers can see you easily.
4. Be careful near open flames. Today, many people decorate with battery-operated lights, but a few still use traditional candles in pumpkins.
5. Don’t go it alone. Trick or treat with an adult or with a group of friends.
6. Make a plan. Map out your route, so people know where you’re going and what time you’ll be there.
7. Be aware of stranger danger. Don’t ride with people you don’t know or go near cars you don’t recognize, even if people call you over.
8. Practice safe walking habits. Use crosswalks. Obey traffic lights and signs; look both ways before crossing the road; never walk between cars parked on the side of the road—drivers will not see you in time.
9. Don’t eat any candy until its inspected. In a well-lit place, check all candy for tampering. Only eat candy and other treats that are still in original and unopened wrappers. To avoid temptation, eat dinner or a snack before you venture out
10. Make sure you know how and when to dial 9-1-1.
Following these tips increase your chances of having Happy Halloween memories.
And if you’re wondering about Tommy, he received top-quality orthopedic care. He finished fifth grade remotely. He graduated high school with the rest of us, went to college, married, had children, and built a house behind the kickball field where we used to play as kids. The only thing left from that frightful Halloween are the memories and Tommy’s slight limp.